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HDB’s plans to use 3D-printing for “building” housing estates

Buildings in Singapore are going through a 3D craze with increasing use of 3D technology and 3D printing for building designs, data and building structures.

The Housing Development Board (HDB) has plans of using 3D-printing technology for creating landscape furniture and architectural features in a Housing Board (HDB) estate.

This is part of HDB’s plans for increasing productivity within a slowing down growth of the construction industry.

3D-concrete printing tests are currently conducted at the HDB Centre of Building Research at Woodlands.

The 3D-printer used in these tests is titled to be the largest in Southeast Asia. Its accolades include printing a 3.6m b7 3m by 2.75m room in 13 hours in August this year.

The use of 3D technology is aimed to allow for more efficient and cost-saving construction procedures. It will also allow for less laborious work.

Room for creative work is created as well, whereby 3D-printing allows designers and architects to produce novel designs.

These plans will be implemented in the new Tengah and Bidadari estates.

Mr Heru Soedarsono, deputy director of Building Design & Precast System at HDB said, “The use of 3D-concrete printing has opened up new and exciting possibilities for the future of construction.”

He said that the use of 3D-printing in the construction industry is mostly a new approach.

The traditional method for constructing a room would require precast production. This would take more than two months. Designing the room will consume a lot of time as well.

3D printing, on the other hand, will complete the same task in six days. This includes the manual insertion of steel reinforcement bars into the room structure.

The traditional method will also incur more costs for fabricating the mould. 3D-printing removes the need for such moulds.

To test the field, HDB will test the technology on smaller components used in precinct designs in common areas of the above-mentioned estate areas. These include void deck designs and texture: customised sun and rain screens and 3D-artwork panels.

Video analytics and AI for keeping workers safe

The use of video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for enhancing safety at construction sites is also explored on.

These technologies will be used for automatically identifying high-risk situations and sending alerts to the relevant personnel in charge.

This being tested in two scenarios:

  • When workers are within a metre of a non-barricaded building edge with a fall height of more than 2m
  • When workers are directly under the fall path of heavy loads lifted by tower cranes

Such scenarios can be monitored with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. This information will then be sent as immediate alerts to the safety supervisor’s mobile phone via the Telegram app. This will allow for immediate actions to be taken.

It also ensures that there is 24/7 supervision of workplace safety. Human errors due to situational conditions such as fatigue will also be reduced.

HDB is working on this together with the National University of Singapore’s School of Design and Environment, with support from AI Singapore.

Future implementations include monitoring workers standing on vehicular pathways and entering confined spaces without authorisation.

 Safety inspecting drones

HDB is working with its partner H3Zoom.ai for using drones to inspect building facades. This is in the aims of creating a safer workplace for workers and for decreasing the dependence on manual labour.

This potentially new system will use a cloud software platform for performing visual scans of building facades images taken during the inspection.

AI can run through thousands of photos for detecting the defects and it will also group them.

The system will then generate a report which will highlight the seriousness of the defects and of the following steps to be taken.

Presently, workers conduct these inspections on gondolas and inspecting a block may take a few days.

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